formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Thursday, July 31, 2008

All About Dizzy Lizzy (aka Pain In The Butt)

I am missing Ryan right now, so my niece Elizabeth (also known as Dizzy Lizzy) has come to spend the night. I told her that while Ryan was away she should make herself scarce, but she never listens to me... probably because I lie to her all the time... I mean, I tease her (I never lie). But she doesn't believe anything I say anymore as a result, even when I holler at her for real... she just assumes I'm teasing. I have to beat her with a big stick to make her understand I'm serious (she's sitting beside me right now and since the child couldn't lie to save her life, and because she is a HUGE tattletale, she wants me to let you all know that I don't really beat her with a big stick). Anyway, she wanted me to post some photos of her recent karate tournament. I didn't want to but she was going to make me watch Spongebob Squarepants all night if I didn't, so here they are (look left and down). The tournament was a pretty big deal and Elizabeth did amazingly well, finishing 3rd in her group, which was very large. We were all proud of her (well, I wasn't, but she's sitting here, so I had to say that). That's all. I think I've fulfilled my 'no Spongebob' requirement (and I'm going to put her out on the deck now because she just farted). Night night.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Brown... It's Just a Color

I met a man recently who was very smart, funny, and attractive… I liked him… a lot. We hit it off and for the first time in a while, I allowed myself to hope that I might have found someone with whom I could have a relationship… a long-term relationship. He seemed to share my enthusiasm for our connection… until… he said, “I have a question I’ve been meaning to ask for a while, as it could be an issue down the road…” Uh oh. An ‘issue down the road’ is never a good sign. And then he asked, “Did you marry outside your race? I’ve wondered since I saw a photo of your daughter.” Now, I’d already mentioned that Rob is Hispanic but it must not have registered… I dunno. So I reiterated that fact. I asked why it mattered. He replied that 'race-mixing' is fine for other people but because he believes it brings difficulties upon families, he didn’t want to date anyone who had a mixed-race child and invite those difficulties into his life.

I was stunned. Hurt. Angry. Sick. Sad. How did I miss the fact that this very smart, funny, attractive man, with whom I’d shared hours of conversation, was a bigot? But miss it I did. I understand that lots of people share his view. I know people who do. But I truly believe in my heart that we should invite people into our lives based on their character, integrity, actions, and what’s in their heads and hearts… not based on the color of their skin. There are quality people (and people not worth our time) of all colors. And I don’t see how I can teach my daughter that – teach her that color doesn’t matter but then say, “Oh, by the way, Ry, you can be friends with someone from a different race, but you can’t date or marry them.” That makes me a hypocrite. And though I am a lot of things, I try not to be one of those.

As I say, I know people (quite a few) who think the way he does. I just never thought anyone would apply that way of thinking to MY child – my beautiful, brilliant child, who just happens to tan easily and can barely count to ten in Spanish! And you want to know the most ironic part of this whole situation? HE is the only person who has ever made Ryan’s ethnicity a ‘difficulty’. And while I might be na├»ve (or maybe ‘hopeful’ is a better word), I truly hope he’ll be the last.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Busy, Busy Weekend

Hello All! We’ve had a busy, busy weekend with Ryan’s last swim meet and her birthday party (photos to the left). It was a good one overall, though I had to say good-bye to my baby this morning, as she left with her dad for a week in Alabama (more on that later). First things first...

The meet… Ryan did swimmingly! Hee hee. Really, she was amazing and finished FIRST in her heat in the butterfly (and shaved nearly 10 seconds off her best time!), FIRST in her heat in backstroke (besting herself by 4 seconds!), and fifth in her heat in freestyle (beating her best time by a second!). She swam a relay as well and, as the youngest member on the relay team (and the first swimmer), maintained third place (but the relay was lost, as the later swimmers lost some time). She was thrilled at her own performance, as were the rest of us. Her cousin Elizabeth was definitely her loudest fan (I have a cold and couldn’t cheer as loudly as normal).

The birthday party… was fun. We had it (early… her birthday’s not ‘til Saturday) at my brother and sister-in-law’s house, as they have a pool (the best part about summer birthdays is that you don’t have to plan any games… the kids just stay underwater). Six little girls splashed around, ate chocolate cake, and generally had a good time. Ryan got some great presents including a pair of swim fins from my friend Todd (and Jonesy, the red Welsh dragon). She was so excited about how much faster they allow her to swim, that she didn’t take them off the whole afternoon.

Alabama… sigh. Ryan will be spending this week with her dad and his new live-in girlfriend (yes, we only just met Amanda, the last live-in girlfriend… yes, I know… methinks we are sensing a pattern here). Anyway, we didn’t know about this girlfriend until Saturday… I don’t think I was meant to know at all, but Ryan has a big mouth. It was not a happy experience for me to learn that my child will be cared for all week by someone about whom I know NOTHING, but there was really nothing I could do. Hopefully she’ll be as nice as Amanda, who has become quite a good friend (never imagined four years ago I’d be saying that!). Thankfully, Ryan is OK with it all. We had a long chat last night and she said some frighteningly mature, shockingly wise, hysterically funny, and achingly sad things about the whole situation. It was bittersweet for me, really… on one hand, I realize I’m raising quite an impressive child and I’m obviously doing something right if she can handle such crap so well. On the other hand, I feel SO sad for her that she HAS to handle such crap at all. She said it all, I think, when she told me, “Mama, I sort of expect this sort of stuff from Daddy, but it wouldn’t be good at all if YOU did it.” No worries there, baby… no worries there.

Monday, July 21, 2008

And a good time was had by all...

Hi Everyone! We’re back from the wilds of Maine… I’ve washed the campfire smell out of my hair and the sand out of my underwear… my (much missed) dog is snoring at my feet and I’m sitting down with a cup of tea to write about our adventures. Put your feet up (but don’t fall asleep!)… I promise (I’ll try) not to be too long-winded…

First, I’ll start by saying that yes, it was just the two of us (Ryan and me) on this trip. Loads of people assumed there were others going and I was taken aback by how many people (friends, family, and strangers alike) seemed surprised that it was just us… I suppose the idea that 2 girls would venture alone (gasp!) into the woods without a man (what were we thinking?!) is surprising to some. One woman we met told me I had impressed and inspired her (of course, she wouldn’t have been impressed had she seen the pancakes I made that first morning at camp… disastrous). I didn't understand her attitude at all… but whatever. In any case, I did manage, all by my lonesome, to get us there and back safely, set-up camp, build a fire every night, cook such gourmet fare as homemade chili, spaghetti and garlic bread, avocado and mozzarella burgers, and blueberry/chocolate pancakes (they were the 2nd/3rd attempts), all on a camp stove, keep us dry during a massive all-night thunderstorm, and maneuver us through woods, mountain trails, and ocean paths successfully. I am woman, hear me roar!

So… Maine… one of the truly beautiful places on the planet. I loved it… so did Ryan. The weather for our whole trip (except for the night-time thunderstorm) was perfect. Though the locals complained about the heat, I was in heaven in 85-degree temperatures and nearly zero humidity. Our campground was really wonderful (though there were no showers) and our neighbors nice. Interestingly, none of them spoke English… the first family was Asian, though I think there was a Banshee in the woodpile, given how loud their youngest was. The next group consisted of a French-Canadian couple (she spread her make-up out on the picnic table every morning and very carefully applied her face… methinks this might have been her first camping trip). The third set of neighbors was a French-Canadian family, the father of which snored like a chainsaw (at least I assumed it was the father… but I don’t really know for sure, obviously). It was interesting to me to go from here, where Spanish is spoken by a big portion of the population, to there, where French is spoken so frequently, given Acadia’s French heritage and its proximity to Canada.

Acadia itself is really amazing and too big to explore in a mere week. We both want to go back for a bit longer (and the 16-hour drive convinced me of that more than anything!). Next time we’ll take bikes, as I think we could see even more than hiking around on foot. And hike we did… we didn’t sit still for a moment. We hiked lake trails, carriage roads, shore paths, and mountain trails… we trekked over lots of big rocks and some sandy beaches (and I was reminded every day that I need to see the ear/nose/throat specialist soon to see why I can’t breathe through my nose anymore). Ryan braved 50-degree water temperatures (I was not a roaring woman those days and only waded… even then my feet were numb after 5 minutes)… I’ve no idea how she stood it for 2 hours at a time, along with several other kids. I chuckled, as it reminded me of when we were in Scotland, in North Berwick, on the North Sea. The children were all playing in the water and their parents were watching from the shore, bundled in sweaters. In any case, she did it, I think, to prove her Uncle Grant wrong… he told her that the water that far north was too cold to swim in (a point with which I readily agree)… ornery child (wonder where she gets that?).

Other than hoofing it all around the island, we spent a little bit of time in Bar Harbor, which is the quintessential summer town… and a very liberal-minded sort of summer town, too, I noticed. I liked that. There were loads of shops, which all carried the same basic stuff (I know this because Ryan made me go into every single shop), and some nice restaurants… I had a ‘crab roll’ (I don’t like lobster) and blueberry pie… Ryan had chicken fingers (duh). We also left from Bar Harbor for a whale watching tour, which was very cool… literally… it was about 35 degrees out on the sea, 30 miles from shore. Brrrr. But the icy temps were worth it, as we saw a load of harbor seals and 2 humpback whales. I got one good photo as one of them breached but my camera didn’t recover fast enough for me to catch him slapping his tail on the water. It was amazing nonetheless. I did suffer a bit of seasickness out there, which surprised me, as I never get ill like that. I don’t think it helped, though, when I opened my eyes to see a little boy heaving his lunch into the trash can in front of me… ugh. But I survived without losing my own lunch (I think all my muscles were frozen, so it couldn’t have come up if it tried)… a good thing.

All in all, seasickness aside, the trip was really fantastic. We followed the park rule, which is to “leave no trace”, but Maine, and Acadia especially, left its trace on us.

I’m working on loading photos and should have some up by tomorrow.

Oh, and I’ve included a bit here… just things I observed, mused over, that made me laugh, etc, during our travels…

1. I saw license plates from 27 states between Virginia and Maine… seems the price of gas ISN’T keeping people at home!

2. For the amount of money we pay in tolls, our roads should be much better! Crossing the George Washington Bridge from NJ into NY costs $8.00! It ought to be paved in friggin’ gold!

3. On I-78 in PA, they have mile markers every tenth of a mile. I can see no reason for this… unless they’re there so that when you call the PA DOT to report the (many) potholes, you can tell them SPECIFICALLY where they are... of course, they don’t actually FIX the potholes, but that’s beside the point.

4. There are a shocking number of states which do not require motorcyclists to wear helmets… and there are a shocking number of (idiot) motorcyclists who take that to heart and ride bareheaded.

5. In New Hampshire, they have lots of HUGE blue (state-issued) signs declaring every stop where you can find a (state-run) liquor store (and lottery ticket distributor). Then, as you cross into Maine, the very first sign you see says, “Welcome to Maine – Our drunk driving laws are some of the strictest in the country”. I cracked up… obviously you should buy your booze in NH (please!) but don’t drink it in Maine!

6. I love bumper stickers… I saw thousands… including ones declaring Jesus is coming, God is dead, and Darwin went to Hell (that one really made me laugh)… loads of people seem to be looking forward to Bush’s last day (me included). I noticed a bunch of Obama stickers (though not as many as I’d have expected) and ZERO McCain stickers… not sure what that means, if anything.

7. An hour in the sea will yield approximately 6lbs of sand in an 8-year-old’s bathing suit.

8. Showers, even those for which you pay 37 ½ cents per minute and which are freezing cold, are never so welcome than after a day of sweat, sunscreen, sand, and sea (the combination of which is known as ‘stink’).

9. Nine days, 24 hours per day, is a very long time to spend with a child who talks a lot. A very long time.

10. Next time we’ll make it 12 days… I can’t wait.

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's Vacation Time... well, eventually...

Why is it that on days when you’re in a hurry or have 800 things to do, the forces of the Universe conspire against you to make life difficult? Why?! OK, I’ll concede that had I done 200 things each day this week (as opposed to leaving all 800 for today), I wouldn’t be so stressed. And I’ll admit that the decision to stay up until 1:00 this morning watching reruns of The Office might not have been the brightest plan I’ve ever hatched. And yes, I know that I complain in the same manner as I’m whining right now every single time I’m getting ready to get out of town and that I never, ever seem to learn. That’s all BESIDE the point. The point is… ummm… what was the point again? Oh, never mind. I was writing to tell you all ‘good-bye’, as vacation time is making its way (rapidly) here. We might (translated: we’d damn-well better) make it out of town by Sunday morning… and Ryan and I will arrive at Acadia National Park, on the beautiful coast of Maine, sometime Monday afternoon (after spending Sunday night in NJ, at my Aunt Jean’s). We’ll hang out in the wilderness for a week, and will return home (via NJ again) the following Monday. It’ll be heavenly, I’m sure, and I’ll have lots of photos to share! So everyone take care, have a wonderful week, and we’ll speak soon!

Now, off to the basement, and the grocery store, and Target, and the wilderness outfitters place, and the bank, and the post office, and the gas station, and my brother’s house, and swim practice…

Much love… Diane… XO

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Yet Even MORE Swim Stuff...

Sorry... I know you're probably all bored blind, but I figured I'd post a few new swim meet pics. Tonight was the last meet Ryan will swim in before the big Champs meet at the end of July. She did really well and will likely place in all five of her events. The best part is that she's just having so much fun and is very focused on doing well... I'm SO proud of her. And that's all I'll say!

Oh, not quite done... tomorrow is the swim-a-thon (if the thunderstorms hold off) and we'll be turning in all of our donations... again, thank you SO much to everyone who sent in checks and cash! We appreciate it more than you know!!

Much Love, Diane... XO

Monday, July 7, 2008

Dog Days

My Aunt Jean once said that when she dies, she wants to be reincarnated as one of my dogs. I’ll admit that I’m one of those people who treats my pups like family… they have always been my ‘kids’. I don’t understand people who get a dog only to leave it tied up outside, ignored and lonely. I have always spoiled mine; I play with them and hug on them, and in return, I get the sloppy, unconditional love that only dogs (and slightly badly behaved ones at that) can provide… the big, paws-on-your-shoulders-tongue-from-chin-to-forehead sort of love. I know it’s not for everyone, but I thrive on it. Sundance (a.k.a. ‘My BOY’) loves me that way… he actually smiles when I get home, he tackles me (and sometimes knocks me down) with hugs at the park, he rides in the car with his head on my shoulder, and he sits beside me when I’m lonely, assuring me that for as long as he lives, I’ll always have someone for whom I am exactly… right. And that’s big.

I am not, however, one of those freaky people who believes my dog is human; who sets a place for him at the table (though my mother has threatened to do it for my moochie pooch); who carries him around in a purse (if I could lift him, that is) or pushes him in a stroller. I know he’s a dog, not a person or a baby. This evening, though, I met one of those freaky people… and I SO wish I’d had my camera…

I took Sundance for a little walk after dinner. It was raining (as it has done every day at dinnertime for the past week or so) and at the park down the street, we met a woman and her dog. Well, I think it was a dog. It had 4 legs and fur and it barked… sort of… it yapped, but in a barky way. Yes, I’m sure it was a dog(ish sort of animal). Now, small, yappy, dog-ish creatures are not that unusual, certainly… however, small, yappy, dog-ish creatures who are dressed exactly like their owners… that’s a sight you don’t often see. But both the woman and her dog were wearing raincoats, rain hats, and… wait for it… rain boots. Galoshes. Wellies. BOOTS. I was stunned. I think Sundance was, too, because instead of his usual, ‘Get the Hell out of MY park’ bark, he just looked at the dog and then up at me, his eyes pleading, as if to say, “Please, please, don’t EVER do that to me!” I patted his head, said, “Don’t worry, Bubby, I’d drown myself first,” and then I let him off his leash to plow through every puddle he could find, muddy paw prints notwithstanding.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Splish Splash!

I know you’re probably all getting tired of hearing about swimming (and yet, here I am again)… but I figured I’d update you on Ryan’s progress with the Waves. We’ve had 3 meets now (the last one was last night), we have one more before we go on vacation (we’ll miss one while we’re in Maine), and then we’ll have the big Champs meet at JMU on July 26th. So far Ryan’s swum every stroke for time and though she was a bit panicky about breaststroke and butterfly, she did well. I still maintain that backstroke is going to be her stroke and she remains solid in freestyle (the crawl). So far she’s placed in every event she has entered and her bulletin board is filling up with pretty ribbons. She hasn’t been upset at not finishing first (the first meet set a precedent which would have been hard to maintain, given that this is her first year), which I’ve been really happy about (she sees an A- on her report card as a failure… it could have been an A+, you know!). I’ve stressed to her that even more important than winning her event is improving her own time… beating herself per se. Last night she improved her freestyle time, so we were really happy about that. I’ve always loved that she’s a waterbaby but I’m so excited about how much she really seems to love the whole competitive aspect of the sport. I’d like to see it take her through high school (and, fingers crossed, college as well!). She’ll continue swimming with the VAST league this winter, as she’s seen how impressive the older VAST swimmers are in the summer league… you can really tell who’s in the water year-round and who isn’t.

As for me, I can’t remember enjoying a project so much. Working with my little sinkers has been a real joy. Their parents are so appreciative of the time (and energy) I spend and they thank me often. That makes it worth it, really, but the kids are truly the best part. Last night I watched one of my favorite little guys (Abraham) in his first meet… given that he’d never crossed the pool without floaties until last Friday, his 25-meter freestyle (i.e. doggie paddle) was some feat! He was SO proud of himself and I felt like he was my own kid as I stood at the end of the pool and cheered him on and took pictures (look left). I’ve spoken to the head coach (who won’t be returning next year) about taking on a more active coaching role next summer. She’s all for it, so I’ll be looking into taking a class this winter which will cover teaching the technical aspects of the strokes. It’s been 100 years since I swam competitively and though I can manage teaching the little ones, I feel I need more work to instruct the older, more proficient kids. It’s definitely something I think I’ll enjoy on a larger scale, so we see how it all develops… you know I’ll keep you posted ;).